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American Dream Machineby Matthew Specktor
Synopses & Reviews
American Dream Machine is the story of two talent agents and their three troubled boys, heirs to Hollywood royalty. It's a sweeping narrative about fathers and sons, the movie business, and the sundry sea changes that have shaped Hollywood and, by extension, American life.
Beau Rosenwald — overweight, not particularly handsome, and improbably charismatic — arrives in Los Angles in 1962 with nothing but an ill-fitting suit and a pair of expensive brogues. By the late 1970s he has helped found the most successful agency in Hollywood. Through the eyes of his son, we watch Beau and his partner go to war, waging a seismic battle that redraws the lines of an entire industry. We watch Beau rise and fall and rise again, in accordance with the cultural transformations that dictate the fickle world of movies. We watch Beau's partner, the enigmatic and cerebral Williams Farquarsen, struggle to contain himself, to control his impulses and consolidate his power. And we watch two generations of men fumble and thrive across the LA landscape, learning for themselves the shadows and costs exacted by success and failure. Mammalian, funny, and filled with characters both vital and profound, American Dream Machine is a piercing interrogation of the role — nourishing, as well as destructive — that illusion plays in all our lives.
"Specktor's book deserves a special space in the L.A. canon, somewhere looking up at Pynchon and Chandler. Even as the narrator searches through his past to uncover the truth about his family, the author is searching, too." LA Weekly
"Matthew Specktor's American Dream Machine [is] a big and generous novel that functions both as elegy for a recent past and fictional anthropology...it evokes a world with casual ease and unexpected tenderness, recalling and referencing lots of other fiction (both Hollywood and non) while contriving to establish its unique authority." LA Review of Books
"With coolness and precision, Specktor comes across as a West Coast Saul Bellow in this sweeping narrative, but his energetic, pop-infused prose is markedly his own." Booklist
"[American Dream Machine] is a vivid evocation of the entertainment business from the 1960s to the near present, an L.A. bildungsroman and a murder mystery, all wrapped in one...entertaining package." New York Daily News
"American Dream Machine is grand, complex, lush, intelligent and lively, funny as hell and generous in ways you don't often find. It's also a strikingly original portrait of Los Angeles. People speak of Chandler's Los Angeles, or Didion's, or Nathaniel West's. Someday, they'll speak of Specktor's the same way." Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and The Devil in Silver
About the Author
Matthew Specktor was born in Los Angeles. He received his degrees from Hampshire College and Warren Wilson College. The son of a talent agent, Specktor grew up at the epicenter of the motion picture business, and worked as an executive for such companies as Tribeca Productions (Meet The Parents, Analyze This), Jersey Films (Pulp Fiction, Erin Brockovich) and Fox 2000 (Fight Club). The author of one previous novel, That Summertime Sound, and one nonfiction book, The Sting, Specktor's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper's, Salon, The Believer, Black Clock, The Paris Review Daily, and Open City, among other publications.
He is presently collaborating with James Franco on a film adaptation of Steve Erickson's novel Zeroville, and working with Stephen Elliott on an adaptation of Elliott's novel Happy Baby. Both films are scheduled for production in 2013. He has been a MacDowell Colony fellow, and is a founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books.
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